Though they constitute only 11% of the population, veterans make up 25% of homeless people in the US, according to a new study by The Alliance to End Homelessness. The problem is not limited to older vets—former soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are increasingly showing up at shelters.
The Veteran Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans of the current conflicts. Their numbers are especially disconcerting because their homelessness is occurring so soon after discharge. It took a decade for Vietnam vets to turn up on the streets. Higher instances of post-traumatic stress disorder among Iraq vets may be a factor, experts believe. "The mental health toll from this war is enormous," said a veterans' affairs official.